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House approves $9.7 billion in Sandy flood aid

Congress has approved a nearly $10 billion temporary increase to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s borrowing capacity for the National Flood Insurance Program today.

The increase is necessary because the program, which originally was approved for $21 billion, is expected to run out of money by Monday, according to officials.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-NJ, said FEMA faces more than 100,000 outstanding claims under the program.

New Jersey's entire congressional delegation voted for the measure, which passed, 354-67. All of the no votes were cast by Republicans.

“Today’s vote is a key step in getting critical federal assistance to the residents, businesses and communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy,” LoBiondo said in a statement.

The $9.7 billion measure is expected to be voted on by the Senate later today. LoBiondo and other members of the New Jersey and New York delegation also was able to secure a vote on another $50.3 billion disaster aid package scheduled for Jan. 15. Lawmakers said they would strip out an “extraneous spending directed to states not affected by the storm.”

Officials had originally asked for $60.4 billion, meaning half a billion is expected to be stripped from the request.

The bill gives more borrowing authority to the National Flood Insurance Program to pay about 115,000 pending claims.

Northeast lawmakers say the money is urgently needed for victims of one of the worst storms ever to strike the region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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